Team Culture and the Role of Clear Expectations in Team Success

Your Teams Can Succeed When They Understand What You Want From Them

Positive team culture in the workplace
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In an effective team culture, the concept of context is addressed. Team members understand why they are participating in the team and how the team fits within their organization. When you consider factors that make a team successful, understanding their organization's expectations is one of the top twelve factors in creating team success.

A Successful Team Understands the Context Within Which They Work

In an effective team culture, team members understand where the work of their team fits in the total context of their organization's strategic plan and success goals. This is important because teams that feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves tend to experience increased engagement and work satisfaction.

The Global Wellbeing Index identified five elements that form a sense of well-being. They are important to note with respect to their connection with being part of a team. Three of the five factors are found in a team: purpose, social, and community.

"Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals

"Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life

"Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security

"Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community

"Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily"

When the organizational culture supports teamwork, team members understand how the strategy of using teams fits in the total context of their organization's strategic plan and success goals, too. Team members understand why using teams will help their organization attain its business goals—and how they can attain their personal goals through effective participation.

In fact, they understand the context of a team culture so well, that they are convinced that teams are the only way their organization will excel.

5 Generations of Employees and Team Culture

In every workplace, you now have five generations. of workers who have their own wants and needs from work. This is a change from earlier times when fewer generations existed. According to Purdue Global, you now have Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X employers, Millennials or Generation Y, and Generation Z, all working together.

In the workplaces that Baby Boomers entered following college, yes, you were expected to get along with people, stay loyal to your employer, and work hard. But, teams and teamwork were not emphasized then as they are now as a key driver of organizational success.

In fact, a whole generation of consultants made their living working with these employees to help them understand the positive contributions that teams and a teamwork culture could make in an organization. (Older Gen Xers are in this group of employees as well.) It is not that they objected to teams. Indeed, as noted in the Purdue reference, Baby Boomers, especially, are drawn to teams. For the most part, they had just not participated.

Generation X and Millennial employees see teams differently. Schools got on board with teams and teamwork and Millennials, for example, have experienced teams their entire lives.

In fact, in a memorable job offer meeting, the HR manager hired a millennial employee who pounded on their desk during the meeting and demanded to be part of a team if she accepted the position. It was a refreshing experience after the HR manager had spent years constantly encouraging an environmental culture of teamwork.

Effective Teams Spend Time Defining Their Culture

In a successful team culture, teams understand where their work fits in the total context of the organization's mission, goals, principles, vision, and values. Team members spend time defining their team culture by agreeing upon team norms and expectations within the company's overall team context.

They make certain that they have all of the information that they need to successfully perform their team charter, the reason for the team's existence. If they lack any of the twelve factors necessary to effective team performance, they will struggle unnecessarily on team issues rather than directing their energy to accomplish the task for which the team was formed.

Finally, team members understand the Pareto Principle, that 20% of the problems that they will experience as a team will fall within the context of the task or mission the team is assigned to accomplish. The other 80% of the problems they experience will relate to their team culture and the processes team members establish and commit to for interacting with each other as team members.

An additional thought is necessary for the team to determine how the team will interact with the rest of the organization. Within their team, this communication and contact will reinforce and enhance the team's understanding of why they exist and what they are expected to contribute.

Establishing thoughtful reporting requirements will help team members know when it is appropriate to report progress and needs to other teams, departments, or the organization as a whole. This will prevent what other team members may see as leaking or demonstrating disloyalty to the team.

Article Sources

  1. State of Global Well-Being. "Results of the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index." (page 9) Accessed August 20, 2020.

  2. Purdue Global. "Generational Differences in the Workplace." Accessed August 18, 2020.